Archive for the ‘Heart Mark’ Category


Jesus Christ is our Good Samaritan-He was forsaken that we might be loved

One of the hardest verses to understand is in Matthew 27…

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” Matthew 27:46-47

Martin Luther could not understand. He said “How can God forsake God?”

We can see more insight into this as we peer into its Old Testament source:

1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? 2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. 3 Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. 4 In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. 5 To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame. 6 But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people. 7 All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; 8 “He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!” 9 Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts. 10 On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother’s womb you have been my God. 11 Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help. Psalms 22:1-11

Jesus Christ became the most God-Forsaken Man ever born.

I suggest we will never grasp the full meaning of what Christ experienced when he cried out “Eli Eli lama sabacthani.” To fully understand would be so horrible, so frightening, it would make anything you’ve seen in the movies seem tame. That moment was the blackest of the black, the most terrifying of the terrifying, the most awful of the awful, the most horrible of the horrible.

Jesus was forsaken of God, His father, the one whom He had depended upon all His earthly life, the one He had communed with all eternity.

In that black moment on the cross, God the Father turned his back on God the Son.

The word “forsaken” is very strong. It means to abandon, to desert, to disown, to turn away from, to utterly forsake.

Please understand. When Jesus said, “Why have you forsaken me?” it was not simply because he felt forsaken; he said it because he was forsaken.

Literally, truly and actually God the Father abandoned his own Son.

In English the phrase “God-forsaken” usually refers to some deserted, barren locale. We mean that such a place seems unfit for human habitation. But we do not literally mean “God-forsaken” even though that’s what we say. But it was true of Jesus. He was the first and only God-forsaken person in all history.

What about people in Hell? Of course, God abandoned them, but it is not the same as what happened to Jesus,

“because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened”. Romans 1:19-21

God did not abandon them first, it was their choice to ignore God.

No one can ever know what Jesus experienced in that moment, for no one was ever so united with God as Jesus.

Jesus was wailing the fact that He had been abandoned by the one whom He so depended upon. He had even proclaimed that “I and the Father am one”

People condemned to Hell will curse God for all eternity. They rejected Him all their life, and they will reject Him for all eternity!

My prayer is that no one here will smugly say, “I still have time. I’m not done living my life my way. I know Jesus died on the cross for me, but I’m not ready to turn away from my way and give my life to HIm. I have plenty of time for that later.

You are playing with Hellfire-you are rejecting God even as I speak, and you do not know what will happen in the next hour. If you continue to reject God, and he should take your life on the way home, you will spend all eternity cursing God, because you forsook Him. You rejected that still small voice. You rejected His grace. You rejected the Savior’s love.

Jesus said, “My God,” because the Father-Son relationship was broken at that moment.

That is what God did when Jesus died on the cross. He abandoned his own Son. He turned his back, he disowned him, he rejected the One who was called his “only begotten Son.”

Jesus Became Cursed

Why would God do such a thing? Something happened that day that caused a fundamental change in the Father’s relationship with the Son. Something happened when Jesus hung on the cross which had never happened before.

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us…” Galatians 3:13

Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten son, at that moment became cursed for us.

Why did God turn away?

Imagine that somewhere in the universe there is a cesspool containing all the sins that have ever been commit-ted. The cesspool is deep, dark and indescribably foul. All the evil deeds that men and women have ever done are floating there. Imagine that a river of filth constantly flows into that cesspool, replenishing the vile mixture with all the evil done every day.

Now imagine that while Jesus was on the cross, that cesspool is emptied onto him. See the flow of filth as it settles upon him. The flow never seems to stop. It is vile, toxic, deadly, filled with disease, pain and suffering.

When God looked down at his Son, he saw the cesspool of sin emptied on his head. No wonder he turned away from the sight. Who could bear to watch it?

Think of it. All the lust in the world was there. All the broken promises were there. All the murder, all the killing, all the hatred between people. All the theft was there, all the adultery, all the pornography, all the drunkenness, all the bitterness, all the greed, all the gluttony, all the drug abuse, all the crime, all the cursing. Every vile deed, every wicked thought, every vain imagination—all of it was laid upon Jesus when he hung on the cross.

When God looked down and saw his Son bearing the sin of the world, he didn’t see his Son, he saw instead the sin that he was bearing. And in that awful moment, the Father turned away. Not in anger at his Son. No, he loved his Son as much at that moment as he ever had. He turned away in anger over all the sin of the world that sent his Son to the cross. He turned away in sorrow and deepest pain when he saw what sin had done. He turned away in complete revulsion at the ugliness of sin.

When he did that, Jesus was alone. Completely forsaken. God-forsaken. Abandoned. Deserted. Disowned.

There’s an old Southern gospel song called “Ten Thousand Angels.”

He could have called ten thousand angels
To destroy the world and set Him free.
He could have called ten thousand angels,
But He died alone, for you and me.

Jesus, as the Son of God, could have called 10,000 angels to rescue him from the cross. He didn’t do that, and the chorus ends with these words, “But he died alone for you and me.”

Jesus was Altogether Alone

When Jesus bore the sins of the world, he bore them all alone. Christ is now abandoned, the Trinity disjointed, the Godhead broken. The fact that we do not know what those words mean does not stop them from being true. When Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” he was really and truly forsaken by God.

Have you been redeemed?

By your faith in Jeus Christ, and by turning from your sin to Him, all that vileness, all that stench, all that putrefication of sin is removed. The curse of God’s Law is taken away by Him who became cursed for you.

If you have been redeemed, you have a Blessed Gift that is too Huge to Keep all to yourself.

This is what Jesus read when He began His public ministry:

“THE SPIRIT OF THE Lord IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED, TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE Lord.” Luke 4:18-19

Jesus has given us the gift of

  1. The greatest “Good News” anyone could ever receive
  2. Total Freedom and Release from those who have been captured
  3. New Sight to those who have been blinded
  4. Total freedom and release from those held under a oppressing, bruising weight.

Jesus came to touch the abandoned, the forsaken, the captured, the imprisoned, the broken hearted, the beaten, the abused, the blind.  Jesus was willing to be forsaken and cursed so that we could enjoy forever the comfort and presence of God our Fther.

When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. Isaiah 41:17

Jesus is our ultimate Good Samaritan.

Jesus not only became cursed so that we could be freed from being forsaken and abandoned, crushed and bruised under a weight of sin, He came alongside us, and proclaimed His constant sympathy and support in any and all of our trials.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:15-16

“There,” says he, “see this hand! I am not an high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of your infirmities. I have suffered, too. I was tempted in all ways like as you are. Look here! these are the scars that prove my commitment to you. They are not only tokens of my love, they are not only sweet forget-me-nots that bind me to love you for ever.

  • They are the evidence of my sympathy. I can feel for you.
  • Look-I have suffered. Has your heart been broken? Has your heart suffered betratal?
  • These scars show that my heart too was broken. I was betrayed. You have my sympathy.

The Sympathy of Christ sustained the martyrs

One of them declared that while he was suffering he fixed his eyes on Christ; and when they were pinching his flesh dragging it off with the hot irons, when they were putting him to agonies so severe that I can not even mention them lest some of you would faint,

“My soul is not insensible but it loves.” “For my eyes are fixed on him that suffered for me, and I can suffer for him; for my soul is in his body; I have sent my heart up to him. He is my brother, and there my heart is. Plough my flesh, and break my bones; smash them with irons, I can bear it all, for Jesus suffered, and he suffers in me now; but he sympathises with me, and this makes me strong.”

The martyr St. Procopius thus spoke to the tyrant who tortured him: “Torment me as you like; but know at the same time, that nothing is sweeter to the lover of Jesus Christ than to suffer for his sake.”7

St. Gordius, Martyr, replied in the same way to the tyrant who threatened him death: “Thou threatenest me with death; but I am only sorry that I cannot die more than once for my own beloved Jesus.”8

In your suffering beloved, think of Jesus

  • When you are sweating, think of his bloody sweat.
  • When you are bruised, think of the whips that tore his flesh.
  • When you are hampered by aches and pains, think of Him falling under the weight of the cross.
  • When you are suffering from some life-threatening disease, think of Him on the cross, gasping for each breath as he feels the agony of the nails against his bones and flesh.
  • When it seems that God has hidden His face from you for a little while, think of Jesus crying out “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!”

This is why he wears his wounds in his hands, that he may show that he sympathises with everything that you go through. If by faith you have been born again, you will never ever face this life alone. You will never ever be forsaken. The risen Son of God dwells in you. He is your Elder Brother. He is your comforter. He is your King. He is your High Priest!

Jesus Christ wears His wounds to show us that suffering is an honorable thing.

  • To suffer for Christ is glory. Men will say, “It is glorious to make others suffer.”
  • It is glorious to be trodden on, glorious to be crushed, glorious to suffer.

This is hard to learn. But we see it in our glorified Lord. His wounds are his glory, and his sufferings are part of the drapery of his regal robe. The only degree that God gives to his people is the degree of “Masters in tribulation.” If you would be one of God’s nobles you must be knighted. Men are knighted with a blow of the sword. The Lord knights us with the sword of affliction; and when we fight hard in many a battle, he makes us princes of the kingdom of heaven. We are dukes and lords in the kingdom of God, not through honor of man, but through dishonor of man, not through joy, but through suffering, and grief, and agony, and death. (with thanks to Spurgeon)

The Jewels of a Christian are our afflictions!

  • Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring. 2 Thessalonians 1:4
  • that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. 1 Thessalonians 3:3

The Crown of a Christian is to share in love the afflictions of those around you. The challenge before us has been to Love our Neighbor. And to Love our Neighbors, we must be willing to take up their afflictions and sufferings as our own!

We do not close our eyes and pass them by!

We get close enough to look them in the eye and say Jesus Loves You! I will help you in the name of Jesus Christ, the one who gave His life for me when I was afflicted!

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, Colossians 1:24

Becoming a Good Samaritan simply involves getting close enough to people to see their hurts, their pains, their afflictions, their struggles. Then you make those struggles your own in the name of Jesus Christ!

Jesus was afflicted on my behalf. When I abandoned God, He was there for me!

There are thousands of people in our neighborhood who are struggling under the weight of their sin, that are blinded, that are bruised and broken, that are imprisoned by their own selfishness and rebellion from God.

Do we forsake them. Do we abandon them? Do we say a prayer for them and walk on?

Did Jesus do that for you? Did He simply say God bless you and walk on by?

No! No! He looked into the deepest blackest crevices of your sinful heart and said “I Love you!” I willingly gave my back to the Roman soldiers on your behalf. I willingly laid my hands and feet upon the cross for you! I gave my life for you!

Who will you pass by today that inwardly is bruises, inwardly held captive, inwardly is lost and feeling abandoned?

Will you get close enough to se their needs? Will you get close enough to share their afflictions? Will you get close enough to show them the scars of Jesus Christ!

Please remember that the Good Samaritan did not view the man by the side of the road as a project; he viewed him as a son of God in need of help. The relationship was key in that situation, and I pray that it remains key for us today.

I read the story of a father whose young son was killed in a tragic accident. In grief and enormous anger, he visited his pastor and poured out his heart. He said, “Where was God when my son died?” The pastor paused for a moment, and with great wisdom replied, “The same place he was when his Son died.”

This cry from the cross is for all the lonely people of the world. It is for the abandoned child … the widow… the divorcee struggling to make ends meet … the mother standing over the bed of her suffering daughter … the father out of work … the parents left alone … the prisoner in his cell … the aged who languish in convalescent homes … wives abandoned by their husbands … singles who celebrate their birthdays alone.

This is the word from the cross for you. No one has ever been as alone as Jesus was. You will never be forsaken as he was. No cry of your pain can exceed the cry of his pain when God turned his back and looked the other way.

  • He was forsaken that you might never be forsaken.
  • He was abandoned that you might never be abandoned.
  • He was deserted that you might never be deserted.
  • He was forgotten that you might never be forgotten.

Are you determined to continue to be a Good Samaritan? Then allow the crown of Christ’s sufferings to puncture the bubble wrap which insulates your life from the forsaken people all around you. Jesus himself became forsaken that they could hear the Good News! Jesus Saves!

Then seek out the forsaken, the captive, the downtrodden. The message of Jesus is for them. That is the message that brought you to new life, for you once were forsaken!

Now, go and walk as the Son of God!

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Visit with seasoned saints and it doesn’t take long for someone to ask the question “what is wrong with this world?” Especially when the conversation turns to gay marriage, immorality of politicians or athletes or movie stars or teenagers or anyone for that matter. God has given us the answer to “what is wrong with this world?”. It is found in Romans 1:18-32. Basically the world is thinking upside down, and our attitude toward God is the determining factor! God has let us peek into the way He works when we react to Him the way we do. The bottom line is that our spiritual, emotional and mental health depend upon a right relationship to Him. Anything less will result in thinking and living that is “upside down” as far as God is concerned.

FOUNDATION of WORTHWHILE LIVING

“Listen, Israel: Yahweh is our God; Yahweh is One. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Deuteronomy 6:4-6 (HCSB)

Both God and the Jews consider this foundational truth for living a a life that is worthwhile.  Jehovah God must be honored with all or our life, beginning with His place in our heart. Romans 1:18-23 paints the big picture of what happens when we do not properly honor God, fail to see Him at work in our lives (thank Him) and exalt ourselves over Him (vain thinking).  Their foolish hearts become darkened and they become fools-‘moraino’-worthless and good for nothing to God!

The God we worship depends upon our heart, and what we hold dear in our heart. From our heart proceeds reverence or dishonor. That feeds our emotional soul and results in a thankful attitude. An irreverent heart results in resentment and bitterness in our emotional being. Our emotional soul feds our mind and either empowers us to set our minds upon God or upon ourselves. If we set our minds on ourselves we will worship a god of our own making.

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isa 26:3

But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Matthew 16:23

Furthermore, if we chose to worship God in only one or even two of these areas of our life, wrong worship will be the result:

  1. If we honor God in our heart alone and neglect our emotions and thinking, we will love ANY god.
  2. If we honor God with our emotions yet withhold our heart and our mind, we will be emotional about EVERY god.
  3. If we set our mind on God without giving Him our heart and our emotions, we will make our OWN god.

PARADIDOMAI AND EVIL SHADOWS

Because men would not glorify God, would not make God part of their life by remembering to thank Him, and then ignored Him by becoming vain in their thinking, Creator God “gives them up” to the consequences of their unbelief – the control of sin.

“Gave up” is paradidōmi: “to give into the hands of another, to give over into one’s power or use.” Since men chose to give up God and worship the creature, God issues not only a permissive sentence, but a judicial one, whereby men discover that failure to worship God and seek after him leads to enslavement to the most hideous things, things which they thought were worth worshipping.

Remember the Movie “GHOST”?

“Paradidomi” pictures a man being delivered to prison to be subject to the power and authority of a wicked warden. If you are a fan of “Ghost” picture the scene toward the end where the evil “shadow spirits” come and take Carl Bruner (the villain) away to eternal torment. We are all applauding to know such a horrible man finally gets what he deserves.

Wuest points out that this “giving up” was first begun by man. “These people had already willfully deserted God who merely left them to their own self-determination and self-destruction, part of the price of man’s moral freedom.”

The sad truth is that any man who rejects God as God, and fails to worship His Glory, is subject to the same fate. Not just “murderers” like the character Carl Bruner. God says that any man who fails to honor and worship Him in their heart is a worthless “MORON!” Actually the word is ‘moraino’, but the same meaning is implied. Most translations use the word “FOOL.”

I COULD USE THE WORD “FOOL”, BUT I LIKE USING MORON.

God wants us to have a vivid picture of what happens when we neglect Him or deliberately fail to Worship Him. He gives us Three Pictures of the Downward Descent of Mankind when they forget God and go their own way. The evil shadow spirits are allowed to dominate and control MORONS.

Three times Romans 1 records that God “paradidomi” man. Three times God gives man up to the control of sin. Each time the consequences are frightening. The shocking image of the “evil shadows”  of “Ghost” are nothing compared to the images we will paint this morning.

Perhaps it is unfair of me to call your sister or your brother a moron. There is nothing personal about this at all, it is simply using a graphic “English” word for “moraino”, which is what people become when they “exchange the glory of the incorruptible God for … anything else. (Rom 1:22-23)

What Does God Deliver Morons to Be Tormented By?

GOD DELIVERS MORONS UP THREE TIMES TO THREE EVIL SHADOWS

But we are without excuse. These “evil shadows” are not outside of man, blending in with all the shadows of dark and light. These ‘evil shadows’ lurk within the wicked heart of every man. We can never say “the devil made me do it!”, for we make decisions that allow these ‘evil shadows’ to take our heart, and then all sorts of wickedness begins.

The First Place These Shadows Rule Will Always Be Your Heart!

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. Genesis 6:5 (ESV)

Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes. Psalms 36:1 (ESV)

But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart; they have turned aside and gone away. They do not say in their hearts, ‘Let us fear the Lord our God, who gives the rain in its season, the autumn rain and the spring rain, and keeps for us the weeks appointed for the harvest.’ Your iniquities have turned these away, and your sins have kept good from you. Jeremiah 5:23-25 (ESV)

“But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.” Matthew 15:18-20 (ESV)

“the land of gloom (is) like thick darkness, like deep shadow without any order, where (even) light is as thick darkness.” Job 10:22 (ESV)

These Evil Shadows lurk DEEP inside the heart of man, and when unrestrained and allowed to control us, procede to corrupt our emotional health and then our mental health.

God’s ways are above ours, and usually just opposite of what we would think. We think that as mankind becomes more enlightened, more educated, the more civilized we will become. We believe it is the enlightened mind that guides society. Therefore we place great emphasis on education and training our minds. We believe if you think right you will act right.

GOD ALWAYS STARTS IN OUR HEART

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good. The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. Psalms 14:1-2 (ESV) and also Psalms 53

But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.” 1 Samuel 13:14

Our heart has a brain of its own, one that is not educated by thought but is educated by what we say, see, touch and do. The heart influences our thoughts, our actions, our health, and our influence upon others. God knows that faith begins in your heart. If you believe in your heart…Romans doesn’t address the mind until chapter 12. God deals with the sin that is our heart nature. God desires to be worshipped in spirit and in truth. The world will tell you that God doesn’t make sense to a rational thinking man, but your heart will tell you otherwise. You mind will tell you that what happens in your life is all happenstance, that God doesn’t care or have control, so it is fruitless to give Him thanks. But your heart rejoices in Him anyway and gives Him thanks. Your mind can’t make sense of pain and tragedy, but all of a sudden your heart will burst forth with joy in the midst of sorrow. God tells us in Prov 23:26, my son, give me your heart! When we refuse to be converted to His way and His truth, our heart is easily taken over by our sin nature, by the lusts that lurk in every corner of our heart, in every corner of the world.

A heart that believes and trusts in God and His Word can escape the corruption that is in the world through lust.

For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. 2 Peter 1:4 (NASB)

THE FIRST GIVING OVER RESULTS IN:

I. Uncleanness, Impurity, and Filthiness

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. Romans 1:24-25 (ESV)

  • Neither English word conveys what first century people would think when they heard the Greek word akatharsia.

akatharsia from a = without + kathairo = cleanse) literally describes any substance that is filthy or dirty and could refer to the pus around an open, infected wound or even a decaying corpse.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness (akatharsia). (Mt 23:27)

Akatharsia describes a filthiness of heart that makes the person defiled.

Other Verses:

  • Romans 6:19 “I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh, for as you presented your members as servants to uncleanness and to wickedness upon wickedness, even so now present your members as servants to righteousness for sanctification.”
  • 2 Corinthians 12:21 “that again when I come my God would humble me before you, and I would mourn for many of those who have sinned before now, and not repented of the uncleanness and sexual immorality and lustfulness which they committed.”
  • Galatians 5:19 “Now the works of the flesh are obvious, which are: adultery, sexual immorality, uncleanness, lustfulness”
  • Ephesians 5:3 “But sexual immorality, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not even be mentioned among you, as becomes saints;”
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:7 “For God called us not for uncleanness, but in sanctification.”

Given these, we can draw some conclusions about what this word might have “meant” to a first century Greek-speaking audience. Most everyone views decomposing bodies as disgusting and unclean, but for a Jew, this type of uncleanness would have had an additional ceremonial dimension. To a Jew you would not even be fit to approach the Temple. You would be ceremonially unclean and physically a leper, unfit to worship.

When we say “impure” and “unclean” English people get a picture of Ivory Soap or a dirty bathroom.

Let me suggest two possible alternatives:

Corruption- The most common meaning of corruption centers around political dishonesty. We complain about “corrupt” officials. However, it can also be used to describe physical decay. Consider these definitions from the Random House Unabridged Dictionary: “moral perversion; depravity”, “perversion of integrity” and “putrefactive decay; rottenness”.

Defilement-This word is rarely used in English, and carries with it an explicit religious connotation. “To defile” is the exact opposite of “to consecrate”. Random House gives these definitions for defile: “to make foul, dirty, or unclean; pollute; taint; debase” and “to make impure for ceremonial use; desecrate”. So “defilement” is essentially “impurity”, but a special kind of impurity; one that is religious or sacramental. If I had to pick an exact opposite for the word “sanctification” in English it would be “defilement”.

GOD’S GIVING OVER MANKIND TO LUST IS DONE IN TWO WAYS.

IndirectlyGod gives them over simply by withdrawing His restraining and protective hand, allowing the consequences of sin to take their inevitable, destructive course. Sin degrades man, debases the image of God in which he is made, and strips him of dignity, peace of mind, and a clear conscience. Sin destroys personal relationships, marriages, families, cities, and nations, and churches…

Directly-God gives over rebellious mankind by specific acts of judgment. The Bible is has many accounts of God’s wrath being directly and supernaturally poured out on sinful men. The flood of Noah’s day destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Ge 18:20, 19:24,25, 26), for example, were not indirect natural consequences of sin but were overt supernatural expressions of God’s judgment on gross and unrepented sin. God often allows men to go deeper and deeper into sin in order to drive them to despair and to show them their need of Him. (MacArthur, J: Romans 1-8. Chicago: Moody Press)

What Results When Evil Shadows Take Control of our Heart?

  • Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, Romans 1:24
  • because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. Romans 1:25

Uncleanness and depravity is the result of the lust within their own hearts, and results in dishonoring our bodies, abusing our bodies, abusing others. When we fail to honor the Truth of God, and instead worship what we chose, or what we think is right, corruption and depravity will be the natural result.

  • “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9 (NKJV)

The First Giving over to results in hearts being wicked to the point of accepting and tolerating immoral behavior.

The first mark of wickedness in a godless society is widespread sexual immorality — the degrading, or the dishonoring, of the body. Note that the sentence begins with the word therefore. This immorality is a result of the idolatry into which men fall. Idolatry is common in our day. We do not worship idols and images so much anymore, but concepts and ideas are idolized and deified as much as any of the idols of the ancient world.

  • Idolatry usually results in sexual immorality.

Pastor Ray Pritchard has an interesting insight:

“Why is illicit sex singled out as the first major step away from God? The answer is not hard to find. Sex is closely related to the human spirit. The way you conduct yourself sexually is a good barometer of what’s going on in your heart. After all, what is sex but the desire to be worshiped by another person? Sound strange? It shouldn’t. When two people come together, they are seeking much more than physical release. At a very deep level, they are looking for love, acceptance, fulfillment, freedom and meaning in life. By giving themselves to someone else, they hope (and secretly pray) that through this self-giving, they will discover a way to fill the void within. They “worship” through sex hoping someone will “worship” them back. Sex and worship are thus closely related in their ultimate purpose. It is as if God is pulling back the covers in order to show us how empty our hearts are without him. By turning to illicit sex, instead of fulfilling our dreams we only expose the emptiness within. It never works out like we hope it will. Immorality never satisfies…

Many people think this account describes all the evil things men do and then says that God, in effect, gives up on the people who do them. They think God washes his hands of them because they are so filthy and dirty. That certainly is not what this account says. But because men run after other gods and refuse the testimony of their own hearts and the world of nature around them, because they run after other gods and do not glorify or thank the true God, God removes his restraints from society so that what is done in secret is allowed to break out into openness and acceptability. That is the mark of the wrath of God at work.

The first sign of wickedness in a civilization is that sexual immorality becomes widely tolerated and even accepted.

THE SECOND GIVING OVER RESULTS IN:

II.   Vile Affections, Degrading Passions and Shameful Desires

“For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions.” For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. Romans 1:26-27

  • The Greek words for degrading passions are atimia pathos.

Atimia: means to lower down from a place of honor. A picture is painted of something which is literally not honorable, not worthy of respect, reverence or esteem. It emphasizes the loss of honor that was once enjoyed = cf man originally created in God’s image), disgrace (to be a source of shame to & often implies humiliation and sometimes ostracism), ignominy (deep personal humiliation and disgrace, disgraceful or dishonorable conduct, quality, or action. This noun stresses humiliation).

Pathos: Pathos means passion and comes from the word pascho which means to suffer; to experience a sensation or impression (usually of a painful nature). A passion is a drive or force that does not rest until satisfied. These are internal desires (emanating from our fallen sin nature) cause the victim to suffer and that have to be satisfied or they drive you crazy. A passion describes intense emotion compelling action; intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction; ardent affection; sexual desire or an emotion that is deeply stirring or ungovernable. The word “desires” (when used as noun as in the present context) means to have a longing for and stresses the strength of feeling and often implies strong intention or aim; conscious impulse toward something that promises enjoyment or satisfaction in its attainment.

We all have desires and passions. They are influenced by our heart, not by our mind, for they emanate from our heart. When our heart is corrupted, these desires can run wild, and corrupted passions result in degradation, falling from a place of honor as God’s Creation, into something corrupt and dishonorable. The natural end of those corrupted passions running wild is the ultimate dishonor upon God’s design for our bodies-to procreate, to love a wife or husband in covenant marriage, to raise up Godly generations after us.

GOD’S DESIGN IS CORRUPTED

“As distinguished from epithumia (lusts) in verse 24, pathē (passions), is the narrower and intense word. epithumia is the larger word, including the whole world of active lusts and desires, while the meaning of pathos is passive, being the diseased condition out of which the lusts spring.

  • epithumia are evil longings; pathē, ungovernable affections.

Thus it appears that the divine punishment was the more severe, in that they were given over to a condition, and not merely to an evil desire.”Wuest’s.

  • When hearts become corrupt, immorality results from unrestrained lust.
  • When passions become degraded, perversion results because we become diseased.

MEN WHO “ABANDON” OR “LEAVE”

Abandoned  (aphiemi from apo = separation, dissociation + hiemi = send) conveys the basic idea of an action which causes separation and thus means to send away or to let go from oneself. Aphiemi was used for example of the action of dismissing a wife. The idea is to let go from one’s possession!

The verb abandoned is aorist tense (action at a moment in time, speaks of effective action) and active voice (subject makes a choice of their will to carry out this action). Thus these men made a deliberate, conscious choice of their will to abandon the natural for the unnatural.

Pastor Ray Pritchard once more:

More than anything else, homosexuality is a willful choice. No one can say, “I was born that way.” No one is born homosexual. No one. Anyone who argues otherwise is either ignorant of the Bible or has deliberately perverted its teaching. You can talk all you want about genetics, the size of the hypothalamus, about absent fathers, over-protective mothers, about early sexual confusion, and even about sexual abuse. Some of those things may indeed create a predisposition to this particular sin.

But the fact remains: Every act of homosexuality—whether in word or deed or in lustful thought—every single act is a personal moral choice. Temptation is not the issue because temptation in and of itself is not a sin (cp James 1:14-note).

But giving in to temptation—whether mentally, verbally or in actual deed—is a sin (James 1:15-note). That’s a moral choice for which God will hold you 100% accountable. You can’t blame your choices on your hypothalamus! You can’t even blame your father for his failure to be there when you needed him…As a society moves away from God, one mark of its drift into judgment is widespread homosexuality. The tragic fact is that this is exactly where America is today. (Romans 1:24-32 When God Gives Up)

The Second Giving Over results in Emotions and Passions becoming Vile, Degraded and Out of Control.

The heart is corrupted and no longer guides the emotions into that which is right. SO emotional health becomes vile, even depraved, and wrong, even abominable passions result. Emotional Disease Results. Our emotional psyche becomes conditioned to depravity. Christans, God doesn’t want us to know about or even talk about these vile passions. We are to be simple, and experts in that which is good! We are to “Walk in the Light!”

  • “I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil.” Rom 16:19
  • Walk as children of light…Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. Eph 5:8-12

THE THIRD GIVING OVER RESULTS IN:

III.   Reprobate, Debased, Depraved Mind

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. Romans 1:28-32 (ESV)

The result of the refusal in Romans 1:18-32 was the “reprobate mind.” Paul uses the phrase: “adokimos nous”.

Adokimos: Debased, depraved, REPROBATE (adokimos) refers to that which is rejected after examination. The basic meaning of adokimos is that not standing the test or failing to meet the test and hence worthless, base or unqualified.

  • a counterfeit coin that fell below the standard weight,
  • a cowardly soldier who failed the test in the hour of battle,
  • a candidate for office who the citizens regarded as useless
  • a sword or knife, that once the blacksmith had completed, would place it on his anvil and hit it with his hammer to test whether it was tempered correctly.
  • a stone rejected by builders because of a flaw which made it unfit for construction,
  • the rejected stone being clearly marked by a capital “A”.

Look at the end result: “they refused to have God in their knowledge (ouk edokimasan),” and “God gave them up to a reprobate (= unacknowledged, adokimos) mind.” So God let them have a mind that is void of any divine characteristics.

  • Paul is saying that the mind that finds God worthless becomes worthless itself.
  • The rejecting mind becomes a rejected mind and thereby becomes spiritually depraved, worthless and useless!

The Reprobate Mind has a giant “A” stamped on their head and heart.

They are tried and rejected by the Master Architect and of no eternal value to Him in building His kingdom. This should break our hearts that these men and women in Romans 1:28 are so depraved.

  • 1 Corinthians 9:27 but I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.
  • 2 Corinthians 13:5 Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you– unless indeed you fail the test? 6 But I trust that you will realize that we ourselves do not fail the test. 7 Now we pray to God that you do no wrong; not that we ourselves may appear approved, but that you may do what is right, even though we should appear unapproved.
  • 2 Timothy 3:8 And just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose (literally set themselves against) the truth, men of depraved (destroyed, ruined, corrupted = kataphtheiro) mind, rejected (adokimos) as regards the faith.
  • Titus 1:16 They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient, and worthless (adokimos – unfit, of proven inability to do good) for any good deed.

The Third sign is that Society has lost their spiritual mind and doesn’t even realize it.

More Dangerous Than Sin Itself:

These men had ”tested” God and did not want to believe in Him. The ultimate test of life is usefulness, and the man whose influence is ever towards that which is unclean is of no use to God or to his fellow-men. Instead of helping God’s work in the world, he hinders it and uselessness always invites disaster. It speaks of a mind that is so clouded by sin that it is no longer able to make reliable moral judgments. Here we have gone beyond deliberate iniquity to something much more frightening. At this stage man has lost the ability to think right. He has “lost his mind” (morally or spiritually speaking) and doesn’t even know it.

So the idea in Romans 1:28 is of a mind that isn’t quite right, that has some flaw in it that affects its ability to make right judgments. It speaks of a mind that is so clouded by sin that it is no longer able to make reliable moral judgments. The result is a world that has left God far behind. It is a society with all restraints removed, a culture devoid of all sense of right and wrong, where every man is doing what is “right in his own eyes.”

“God gave them up,” “handed them over”—to punishing angels? No, to themselves and the life they have chosen. A life of falsehood, alienated from the true God and the true world he has created, is punishment enough.

13 STEPS TO HAVING A REPROBATE MIND

13. Argumentation – reprobate mind given to perversion – judgment certain
12. Justify immorality – cannot think clearly
11. Re-examine Scripture – doubt
10. Frustration over drives – confusion
9. Religious compensation – rationalize
8. Incomplete repentance – feeling sorry is not enough; root sin of self on the throne
7. Response to guilt – suppress the truth
6. Awakening of guilt – conviction
5. Violation of conscience – law in the heart
4. Questioning Scripture – dangerous; Eve’s root sin
3. Sensual focus – eye toward lust
2. Awakening of conscience – reasoning with the mind – dangerous
1. Natural curiosity – nothing wrong with this – God gave to Adam and Eve

(From IBLP-Bill Gothard)

MAN’S THINKING IS TURNED UPSIDE DOWN

  • People who are turned upside down in their thinking refuse to acknowledge God as God and furthermore, refuse to thank Him for being God and loving them the way He does.
  • They became Morons (foolish, and showing no thought) in their argumentations, and plunged their silly minds still further into the dark.
  • They argue stupidly and vainly against God and His Word. Their silly minds become darker and sillier.
  • These reprobates believe they are wise, because their thinking is “upside down”. Instead of wise they are now MORONS, worshipping stuff of no eternal Value, or their pet idols or belief’s. They push God out of their lives or leave him in a dark corner, or even create their our own god.
  • God gives up on them up, allowing their foul desires to become addictive to the point of dishonoring their bodies. Life becomes a game with no real meaning or purpose.
  • These people no longer know the truth of God. They can’t even begin to comprehend it, so “upside down” are their minds. They are prey for liars and deceivers. God hands them over to be dominated and controlled by their sinful and unrighteous passions.
  • Sinful perversions warp the souls of the reprobate. They are no longer in control of their mind, will and emotions.
  • Reprobates are slaves of their degenerate (upside down) minds.
  • Reprobate minds have no shame over their actions, no matter how vile, and in fact give approval to others who do the same things.

THEY FILL THEIR LIVES WITH:

According to Romans 1:29, this person’s life will become “filled with” unfitting and inappropriate practices. “Being filled with” is from the Greek word pleroo (play-ro’-o) meaning a life so full of itself it will be full of these things listed as the consequence. “All” can be inserted in front of each to express the extreme influence of a “reprobate mind” upon a life. God gives us twenty-two characteristics of this last degree of unbelief in an individual’s life and in a perverted and reprobate society.

  • “Unrighteousness” is from the Greek word adikia (ad-ee-kee’-ah) referring to the violation of justice.
  • “Fornication” is from the Greek word porneia (por-ni’-ah) referring to illicit sexual practices.
  • “Wickedness” is from the Greek word poneria (pon-ay-ree’-ah) referring to a depravity in purposes and desires.
  • “Coveteousness” is from the Greek word pleonexia (pleh-on-ex-ee’-ah) referring to a growing, greedy desire to have more and more.
  • “Maliciousness” is from the Greek word kakia (kak-ee’-ah) referring to a desire to injure someone or a wickedness that is not ashamed to break laws.
  • “Envy” is from the Greek word phthonos (fthon’-os) meaning life actions always prompted by envy.
  • “Murder” is from the Greek word phonos (fon’-os) meaning a life full of slaughter.
  • “Debate” is from the Greek word eris (er’-is) meaning a life filled with strife and contention.
  • “Deceit” is from the Greek word dolos (dol’-os) referring to deceptive, crafty manipulation.
  • “Malignity” is from the Greek word kakoetheia (kak-o-ay’-thi-ah) referring to bad character and bad morals.
  • “Whisperers” is from the Greek word psithuristes (psith-oo-ris-tace’) referring to a secret slanderer.
  • “Backbiters” is from the Greek word katalalos (kat-al’-al-os) meaning a person who secretly defames another or speaks evil of them.
  • Haters of God” is from the Greek word theostuges (theh-os-too-gace’) referring to a person who is exceptionally impious and wicked.
  • “Despiteful” is from the Greek word hubristes (hoo-bris-tace’) referring to a person who is insolent and who either heaps insulting language upon others or does them some shameful act of wrong.
  • “Proud” is from the Greek word huperephanos (hoop-er-ay’-fan-os) refers to thinking of one’s self as superior to others. This often expresses itself in prejudices by despising others or even treating them with contempt (disrespect).
  • “Boasters” is from the Greek word alazon (al-ad-zone’) referring to a vain and pretentious person.
  • “Inventors of evil things” is from the Greek words epheuretes (ef-yoo-ret’-ace) kakos (kak-os’) referring to a person who schemes in his thinking and imagination of ways to undermine or harm another person.
  • “Disobedient to parents” is from the Greek words apeithes (ap-i-thace’) goneus (gon-yooce’) referring to a person who obstinately resists the authority of his parents. The idea goes into insubordination against all who have authority over him.
  • “Without understanding” is from the Greek word asunetos (as-oon’-ay-tos). It goes way beyond ignorance, referring to a person who lacks any real understanding of the realities of life (including spiritual realities) and therefore makes decisions without any consciousness to those realities.
  • “Covenantbreakers” is from the Greek word asunthetos (as-oon’-thet-os) referring to a person who cannot be trusted to keep promises.
  • “Without natural affection” is from the Greek word astorgos (as’-tor-gos) referring to a person who is incapable of loving anyone but himself.
  • “Implacable” is from the Greek word aspondos (as’-pon-dos) referring to a person incapable of making commitments (let alone keep one).
  • “Unmerciful” is from the Greek word aneleemon (an-eleh-ay’-mone) referring to a person unwilling to help the needy or a person without any compassion for others regardless of the severity of their predicament.

THEY KNOW JUDGMENT IS COMING

The closing statement of Romans 1:32 informs us that the Holy Spirit has fully convinced this person of God’s pending judgment on his/her life. “Knowing” is from the Greek word epiginosko (ep-ig-in-oce’-ko) meaning this person has a thorough perception of what will happen to him once he dies yet he has no fear of God about it because he continues to deny the inner witness of his conscience to God’s truths and existence.

“Judgment” is from the Greek word dikaioma (dik-ah’-yo-mah) referring to a sentence by a judge for a crime committed. The intent here is that this person is fully convinced in his conscience about the eternal death sentence upon him (Romans 6:23). Yet he lives in denial of that cloud of doom over his life. Because of this denial, he not only continues on this pathway to destruction, he forms a partnership with others involved in the same practices which reinforces both his sinful practices and theirs.

WE WILL ALL DIE and FACE GOD

History tells the story of the renowned atheist, Voltaire, one of the most aggressive antagonists of Christianity. He wrote many things to undermine the church, and once said of Jesus Christ, “Curse the wretch. In 20 years, Christianity will be no more. My single hand will destroy the edifice it took 12 apostles to rear.”

  • Voltaire died a terrible death. His nurse said: “For all the money in Europe I wouldn’t want to see another unbeliever die! All night long he cried for forgiveness.”
  • Sir Thomas Scott, once president of the English Lower House said: “Up until this time, I thought that there was no God neither Hell. Now I know and feel that there are both, and I am delivered to perdition by the righteous judgment of the Almighty.”
  • The great evangelist D. L. Moody, on his deathbed, said, “I see Earth receding and heaven is opening. God is calling me.”

Are You Ready to Face God?

For many years John Wesley professed to be a Christian and yet when he truly examined himself realized he was not “in the faith” as illustrated by this brief excerpt from his sermon entitled “The Almost Christian”:

I did go thus for many years, as many of this place can testify; using diligence to eschew all evil, and to have a conscience void of offence; redeeming the time; buying up every opportunity of doing all good to all men; constantly and carefully using all the public and all the private means of grace; endeavoring, after a steady seriousness of behavior, at all times, and in all places: and God is my record, before whom I stand, doing all this in sincerity; having a real design to serve God; a hearty desire to do his will in all things; to please him who had called me to “fight the good fight,” and to “lay hold on eternal life.”

Yet my own conscience bears me witness, in the Holy Ghost, that all this time I was but almost a Christian.”

Is your thinking “upside down?” Could you be a moron, useless to God?

Take the Moron Test for backslidden Christians:

1. Do you ENJOY reading the Bible?

2. Do you allow God to speak to you and guide you through His Word?

3. Do you go days without even thinking about God and what He wants you to do?

4. Do you do things today that years ago you said you would never do?

5. Do you hear about immorality or watch immorality without it bothering you?

6. Are there things you do that friends and relatives would be shocked to learn about?

7. Do you find yourself thinking that God loves you just the way you are?

8. DO you find yourself arguing with other Christians about what behavior is OK?

If you don’t care what the results are, or what God thinks about your heart, YOU ARE A MORON!




Satan-SHows-Jesus-the-KingdomsSatan took Jesus up to a high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in an instant, and said “All this power will I give you and their glory, if you would only worship me”. Satan must have known about Psalm2:8, for God had told Christ:

“Ask of Me, and I will give YouThe nations for Your inheritance,And the ends of the earth for Your possession.”

Cross upon my HeartThis was the desire of Jesus Christ, the inheritance of the nations. Yet Jesus, emaciated with hunger and dehydration, had set a guard on the doorway of His hearts’ desires. He responded with a rhema taken from Deuteronomy 6:13 and 10:20, which Christ had personalized into “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only you shall serve.” Jesus had submitted all His desires, fleshly or otherwise, to the Worship and Service of God His Father. There could be no compromise.

As Satan’s viewed all the kingdoms of the world, his focus was not upon the people, with their problems and needs, but upon the power and glory they held. It was the same allure that led him to revolt from God’s command in the first place. Satan had said in his heart: I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High. (Isa 14:13-14)

Jesus-Angels-01Perhaps that is why Satan misquoted Psalm 91 in his last temptation of Christ. He left out the Hebrew word דֶּרֶךְ‎ derek“. He said the angels have charge over him, to keep thee, and they shall bear you up. But that totally changed the meaning of Psalm 91. In stead of being self-serving, the angels had a “higher way” in view. They had the purpose of Almighty God in view. For the angels are to keep him “derek” – “in the way”. They were to keep watch over Jesus to make sure God’s will was not thwarted. Jesus is the way, and He committed himself to following God’s will. Satan was attempting to thwart the will of God by tempting Christ to go his own way-the way of Satan. That is why Satan left that one word out, for he is the great Deny-er of God’s will. He left the path that God had for him, and now he wants everyone to follow him. He wants to be exalted, he wants the power, he wants the glory. Satan is overjoyed when we do not follow the path that God has for us, the path that He chooses.  He loves it when we lean on our own understanding rather than God’s. For to follow our own way is to sit in the assembly of Satan, and to bow before him. To deny God His proper place as God of our life, is to welcome the death that sin condemns us to.Jesus came to save the people of the world

Satan I Will be like Most High GodSatan focused on the power, the self-glory, and the pride in going your own way. Those were the reasons that led to his revolt. So why should they not work on God’s Son? Because he had not come to earth for those things. In fact, He had left the glory, the power, the splendor so that he could become a servant to mankind, to reach out and touch the needs of fallen men. Of course Jesus wanted the nations, but not without the people. He came not for power but for you and me. When Satan saw the kingdoms, he saw only the power. When Christ saw the kingdoms, he saw the people imprisoned by their sin. Christ came into this world arms outstretched, reaching, not for power, but simply to touch you and me. His desire is that we be freed from death to LIFE and to share in His inheritance, and that we share in the power of His coming Kingdom.

Jesus to the thief on the CrossWhen Satan proclaimed his famous “I will’s”, he did so as he was reaching for the stars. Jesus proclaimed on the Cross as his arms were reaching out to the thief next to Him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Jesus reached not for power, but to take our sin upon him. Jesus reached not for kingdoms, but to be impaled by nails. Jesus reached not for power, but to be shamed by crucifixion upon the cross. Jesus reached for the Cross in order to touch us with His life!

Good Samaritan came to himJesus had compassion on us, dead in our sin, and came to where we were, just as was said of the Good Samaritan: he was moved with compassion, and came to him.” That is why Satan’s offer from on top the mountain did not tempt Christ. That may have been Satan’s desire, to ascend on high, but Jesus “came DOWN from heaven” so that all those who receive His Touch will receive LIFE and be lifted UP to heaven! Jesus came to touch sinners

Satan Falls from HeavenSatan came DOWN from heaven to lift himself UP. The only way he can succeed is to bring as many as possible DOWN! Now, which way would you rather be heading? Do you know the Savior’s TOUCH?

Prayer: Open my eyes and heart Father, to see how much Jesus Christ cared for me. May I turn away from following my own way, and welcome the touch of Christ, bringing new life and new purpose, following Your Path!

From Pathway of Blessing


going-thereCome with me this morning and gaze upon a very sad moment. We find a young woman standing at a tomb, a rich man’s tomb. A huge stone has been rolled away, and she is standing there sobbing her heart out. She is wailing the middle eastern death wail. She has just experienced the most horrible weekend of her life. She had to witness the execution of the man who had saved her life. He had rescued her from a life of sin and abuse. Her life had been so different since he cast the seven demons from her life. She had never known such forgiveness and acceptance and love. He was gone, crucified at the hands of Roman soldiers, and the least thing she could do was to go and anoint his body for a proper burial. To say goodbye one last time. But he is gone. His body is not there. She arrived early in the morning and the stone had been rolled away. The Roman guards were gone, the grave cloths were laying in the grave. Jesus was gone. Someone had stolen the body away.jesus_tomb-mary-weep

Suddenly a man approaches her. He asks her “Why are you weeping”. She doesn’t recognize him, thinks he is the gardener. “Sir”,she asks, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have laid him”. She then turns to stare and sob.

He simply calls her name, “Mary”. And in a flash she knew. She turns to him and says “Rabboni”!

This morning, Jesus stands before each one of us. He is alive. He is God! He is our Savior! He is at the right hand of God His Father. He is awaiting the day when the Father will say, THAT”S ENOUGH! Your day is here.

But until that day when He shall descend from heaven with a shout and the blast of the trumpet, Jesus stands in front of you and asks WHY ARE YOU WEEPING? I am your teacher! Do you not know what I have taught you? He calls each one of us by name and asks, “Why are you weeping?”

You say that’s silly, because I’m not weeping. But I say, Jesus knows your heart. He sees the tears that are there. They may be buried, they may be hidden, but they are there. We can all say as David said in Psalm 44:19: “thou hast sore broken us in the place of dragons, and covered us with the shadow of death.” Jesus wanted Mary to realize she did not need to weep. She did not need to sob her heart out.

Glenda Brost of Indiana tells us:

On a beautiful day in May 1996, I came home to find that my fifteen-year-old daughter, Patti, had shot herself to death. I was absolutely devastated. Patti had been diagnosed and hospitalized with severe depression that winter, but seemed to be improving dramatically. In April, she gave her life to the Lord, and everyone saw a big change in her.

The first month after Patti’s death was a blur. I knew I had two choices—to allow my anger and hurt to take over my life and my marriage, or allow the Lord to help me through the struggles and somehow bring good out of this tragedy. My husband, Bill, my son, Brent, and I vowed we wouldn’t let Satan have the victory; we would serve the Lord no matter what. That summer I spent much time reading the Bible and praying. I felt the presence of the Lord in such real ways, comforting and strengthening me. Whenever I was down, someone would call or send a card or say she was praying for me.

limbic-systemOur heart records emotional distress and sends the message to the limbic system of our brain. Here the emotional hurts, painful memories are stored just beneath our conscious thought. These memories surface in strange reactions to certain impulses or circumstances. We can’t explain why so and so frustrates us so, or why so and so brings fear. We bear the mark of emotional pain and suffering upon our heart.

It would be horrible to think that a child’s suicide, the death of a small child, the diagnosis of a terminal disease is something we must bear alone. It is even more tragic that there is no God to make sense of all the pain and suffering in this world. There must be something more to this life. There must be a cure to the stain upon our heart that this life can leave.

Every year thousands of people climb a mountain in the Italian Alps, passing the “stations of the cross” crucifixes-in-italian-alpsto stand at an outdoor crucifix. One tourist noticed a little trail that led beyond the cross. He fought through the rough thicket and, to his surprise, came upon another shrine, a shrine that symbolized the empty tomb. It was neglected. The brush had grown up around it. Almost everyone had gone as far as they cross, but there they stopped.

I have known people who have let the pain of their heart ruin their marriage, their relationship with their children, ruin their career, ruin their life. If we only focus on the pain and the suffering, we will be held captive and our lives will be ruined. Jesus asked Mary “Why are you weeping.” Don’t focus on the loss, focus on the VICTORY! Don’t stop at the cross, Praise God for the Empty Tomb. Praise God for the Resurrection!

jesus-wears-the-cross-on-his-chestJesus doesn’t wear an “S” on his chest. He wears the cross, because He conquered the cross! He endured the Cross for the Joy that was set before Him. The joy was not heaven, He already had that. The Joy was seeing His VICTORY GIVEN TO YOU AND ME! He wants to MARK our HEART with the Victory of the Resurrection!

Mark Your Ball With “JPT”

Dr David Cook is a renown sports psychologist. He has written a book titled Golf’s Sacred Journey. He was invited to speak and discuss the book at a gathering of Christian golfers at the number one golf course in the World, Pine Valley. These men were all great golfers, successful executives. The last day he was paired up with one of the greatest amateurs. He had a horrible reputation fro being a raging maniac on the course. His attitude had kept him from making it to the pro’s, and had affected his success in business. In the short devotion before they played,

pine-valley-hole-18Dr Cook told him I am going to teach you something that will change the way you approach life. God wants to use golf to change eternity. You’ll never play well until you understand God’s purpose for your life, and that is to use your life to change eternity. God wants to use everything in your life to effect eternity. God wants to use your Golf to change this world for eternity. This game is not about you.It is not about your score, it is not about how you look to other people, it is about God and what He wants to do in your life and the lives of the people you play with.

Gave him a verse I Thess 5:16-17: Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances – Joy Prayer Thanksgiving

So he marked his ball with “JPT”

He said “I want you to go and play a great game, but no matter what you do, always have Joy and Give Thanks, whether you birdie, bogey or double bogey. And as you play, pray! This is why God called you, to use your game to change the eternity of those you play with.

Everyone was noticing a different attitude. He was playing great, and was 4 under par at the 12th hole. He was 30 yards out on the 12th hole. He went to hit an easy chip shot for a certain birdie when he duffed it. He hit the ball only two feet. You could just see him turn inward and start to go ballistic. David rushed to his side and said “remember, this game is not about you, it about your purpose in changing eternity. The enemy wants to use circumstances to take you out, to render you powerless. He wants to embarrass you on the golf course. He uses three weapons, “KILL STEAL & DESTROY” That’s how he makes you powerless. Look at your ball, what does it say: “JPT” – Joy Prayer Thanksgiving. Those are your weapons to change your world for eternity.

He calms down, says a quick prayer of thanksgiving and ends up bogeying the hole. He keeps on playing and gets back to 4 under. The last hole and he’s feeling great, everybody is noticing his new attitude. He hits a mighty drive 330 yards and it hits directly into a bunker at the foot of the green. Three feet down from the top. The ball is buried. He goes to his ball and he starts yelling for David to come!

jpt-ball-markLook at this! The only thing showing is the “JPT”. He’s on his knee’s praising God. He says David, this is my message from God. From now on I will use JPT to change the eternity of those around me. No matter how deeply I’m buried I will praise God.

Jesus is before you and he is looking into your heart. He sees the hurt, the disappointment, the bitterness, the coldness, the pride, the scars upon your heart. He wants to mark your heart with JPT, because He has conquered all! He overcame the devil, He overcame sin and our alienation from God. Satan has no claim on us anymore. If we place our life in Jesus, we share in His death, His burial and His resurrection. We already died, so Satan has no power over us. Hebrews 2:14,15 says: “that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.”

Just because we are in a bad place, buried in the sand, doesn’t mean we have to stay there, crying or angry or frustrated. We all have to go there at times, but we don‘t have to stay there. Jesus has already gone there, and He has given us His victory! Satan wants to kill your love for God, he wants to steal your heart away from loving God, he wants to detroy your effectiveness and testimony.

hebrews-2-14_15Jesus has changed this World for eternity. He has overcome every terrible situation that you could every encounter in your life. He assures us that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Rom 8:28 Through the resurrection we can mark our hearts with “JPT”

The resurrection of Jesus Christ signaled the defeat of Satan, sin and death. But we fail to see the power of the resurrection when we fail to see the power it has for our lives. Jesus knows you will have heartbreak, sorrow, tears, disappointment, mistakes, struggles, you name it, Jesus knows you will have it. But Jesus still stands before you and says: “You don’t need to weep!”

Jesus wants us to know that no matter the tragedy we will face, if we allow His Resurrection to EMPOWER US, he will transform heartbreak and sorrow into POWER to LIVE and LOVE Life. Hebrews 12:2 records that Jesus endured the cross for the joy that was set before Him. Jesus had to go to the cross to get to that joy. That joy is knowing that you and I can share in His victory. Our lives can be transformed because Jesus went there to get there.

2-cor-3-18Paul reveals:

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NASB)

Jesus Christ wants to change us, to reveal His Glory in us. He wants to mark our hearts just like you mark a golf ball. Only He wants to mark it with the power of the Resurrection! Through His HeartMark you will be changed into His Glory! You will be victorious.

You can focus on the pain, the heartache, the broken promises. Or you can focus your life on the Victory of Jesus Christ! You can mark your heart with bitterness and pain, or Joy Prayer and Thanksgiving! The Power of the Resurrection is only experienced as we focus on Jesus and His Victory! If you focus on your problems and your sad situation you are defeated. You are like Mary, staring at the tomb and wondering what you are going to do. Jesus is standing before you saying WHY ARE YOU WEEPING. Whose Mark is on your Heart? Are you willing to claim the victory of Jesus for your life?Are you willing to see your life as changing this world for eternity? Are you willing to have Joy, to Pray in every circumstance, to Thank God for everything? To Believe that Jesus is Victorious?

Joseph

joseph-Heart MarkJoseph was one of the most mis-treated people you could ever meet. He was betrayed by his brothers, falsely accused and thrown into a horrible prison. He was betrayed once again and if had been like most people would have become bitter and angry and rotted away. But he had JPT on his heart. How do I know? Because when he was finally placed on high as the second migthtiest man in the world, and had a chancve to get even with his mean brothers, he said “ You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good! Only someone with JPT on their heart could say that.

Peter

If anyone could ever say he was not fit to follow Jesus, it would be Peter. Such a man with big dreams. He told Jesus he would follow him anywhere. Why he even picked up a sword and tried to prevent a squadron of soldiers from taking Jesus away. He obviously was not a trained swordsman. He only managed to cut off a servants ear.

peter-denies-jesus-meltonWhen push came to shove, and Jesus needed him, Peter was afraid to go with him to the Governors’s court. A simple servant girl, cousin to Malchus, whose ear Peter cut off, said “I know I’ve seen you with Jesus”. He started speaking fisherman and denied he had ever known Jesus. Then he heard the rooster crow for the third time. Peter wept bitterly. All his hopes, dreams plans perished with Jesus on the cross. Peter was a failure, Jesus was a failure. I imagine he was relieved when he heard that Jesus had died. At least his betrayal did not mean anything.

How his guilt came streaming over him when he heard the tomb was empty. He ran to the grave, he went in. There was no body. Peter had failure and regret inscribed upon his heart. Then one morning he saw Jesus on the banks of the sea. Embarrassed Peter jumped into the water and reluctantly swam ashore. There Jesus asked him a funny question. “Do you Love me?” Semantics aside, Jesus wanted Peter to erase the bad heart mark and replace it with LOVE! The Resurrection is the greatest LOVE mark you can ever place on your heart! Do you LOVE me? Then don’t weep, don’t let your heart be destroyed. Love Jesus, Love His Resurrection! Let that be your Heart Mark!

Prodigal Son

prodigal-heart markThe prodigal son broke his father’s heart. He took his inheritance and wasted it on every despicable thing you can imagine. Finally he came to the end of himself and found himself feeding the pigs. But there, amidst the stench and squalor of his life, he remembered the love of his father. His heart still had a touch of his father’s love. He went home to discover that his Father’s love is overwhelming, matchless, victorious. He allowed the Father’s Love to Mark his Heart!

Isaac

Isaac was a young boy when his father Abraham said they were going to Mt Moriah. When Abraham told his servants to stay there, for he and Isaac were going to worship, we can only surmise what was going through Isaac’s mind. isaacFinally he cried out Father, “where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham said God would provide. What horror must have been in his eyes as he watched his father raise the knife, because he was the sacrifice! When the angel stopped Abraham’s hand, I know that Isaac did not hesitate to get off the altar. But I know that indelibly etched upon his heart was the image of the ram that God indeed provide for the offering. He could have been that offering, but God provided another.

The sacrifice of that ‘lamb’ was indelibly inscribed upon young Isaac’s heart. And so should the Sacrifice and Victory of Jesus be inscribed upon ours.

jesus-gives-us-victoryJesus Christ is the only begotten son of God. He stepped forward and said I’ll save them. I’ll go to the cross. I’ll drink the cup of God’s wrath. Because He died on the cross and rose from the dead, WE HAVE LIFE! We are not defeated. We can stamp JPT on our hearts. We can have Joy no matter the heartache. We can have continual prayer with our Father who loves us. We can be thankful for all things because we know that all things work to good for those who love God.

WHY ARE YOU WEEPING? WHY ARE YOU DEFEATED? WHY ARE YOU LETTING THE ENEMY TAKE YOU OUT, EMBARRASS YOU, RENDER YOU POWERLESS. WHY DO LET HIM STEAL KILL AND DESTROY. LOOK AT THE INITIALS ON YOUR HEART – JPT. BECAUSE JESUS LIVES WE HAVE JOY WE HAVE PRAYER WE HAVE THANKSGIVING! WE HAVE TOTAL VICTORY! LET THE RESURRECTION BE YOUR HEARTMARK!

When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:54-57 (ESV)